Southampton have asked the Premier League to investigate an alleged illegal approach from Liverpool for Virgil van Dijk, Sky sources understand.
The Reds are working hard to sign the highly-coveted centre-back, who is understood to have told them he prefers a move to Anfield over other suitors Chelsea and Manchester City.
But Southampton insisted on Tuesday that they have not yet had any official bids for any of their players, including left-back Ryan Bertrand, who is a target for Manchester City.
The Saints are determined to hold on to the Dutch international, and chairman Ralph Krueger stated last month they would be prepared to reject bids of up to £60m in order to keep the 25-year-old.
Sky sources understand Liverpool are prepared to break their transfer record – currently the £35m they paid for Andy Carroll in 2011 – and match any bid from Chelsea or City to land Van Dijk.
Sources indicate Van Dijk has been impressed with manager Jurgen Klopp’s personal involvement in Liverpool’s effort to sign him, but Sky Sports News HQ understands that personal terms with the player have not been finalised.
Sky in Italy reported on Monday that Klopp met with another of their principle transfer targets – Roma’s Mohamed Salah – to agree personal terms over the last few days, as the clubs continue to talk over a potential deal.
Liverpool have so far signed one player already this summer – the soon-to-be ex-Chelsea striker Dominic Solanke, who will join when his Blues contract expires for a fee to be set by tribunal and expected at around £3m.